Story and photo courtesy of Wayne State (Mich.) Athletics
DETROIT, Mich. - Saturday's Homecoming showdown at Tom Adams Field between the Wayne State Warriors and the Northern Michigan Wildcats was a tale of two halves that was knotted at 31 with just 2:21 to play. That was before the Warriors came up with a furious 70-yard drive capped off by a Dominique Maybanks (Muskegon, Mich.) 16-yard end-around that proved to be the final blow that Wayne State would need to earn a 38-31 Homecoming victory.
With the win, WSU improves to 5-2 both overall and in GLIAC play, while NMU falls to 2-6 overall, and 1-6 in the GLIAC.
Wayne State would score early and often behind runs of three and four yards by Toney Davis (Muskegon Heights, Mich. / Muskegon) and Desmond Martin (Redford, Mich. / Thurston), respectively. Sandwiched between those scores however were 10 points from the Wildcats, included was a six-yard TD run by Casey Cotta, who appeared to have little trouble moving the ball in the early goings. The Warriors would take a 21-10 lead into the locker room at the half however as Mickey Mohner (Painesville, Ohio / Harvey) found true freshman tight end Trent Brodbeck (Toledo, Ohio / St. John's Jesuit) over the middle on a fourth-and-four for a 30-yard strike with 1:06 to go in the second quarter. It was Brodbeck's first career touchdown.
Davis and the Warriors opened the third quarter with another three-yard touchdown run to make it 28-10 before the lead swelled to 31-10 on a 27-yard field goal by Stefan Terleckyj (Warren, Mich. / Warren Mott). Things appeared to be rolling towards an easy eighth consecutive Homecoming win for the home team.
Northern would gain some momentum at the end of the third quarter on another Cotta touchdown run, this one coming from three yards out with eight seconds to play in the stanza. Mohner had two balls intercepted in the fourth quarter which Northern converted into seven points thanks to an eight-yard quarterback keeper by Cody Scepaniak.
The WSU defense forced a three-and-out following second the Warrior miscue.
Following a Wayne State punt, the Wildcats moved across midfield, where senior cornerback Aaron Cornett (South Lyon, Mich.) returned a third-and-10 pass from Scepaniak for a TD, however the referee ruled a roughing the passer penalty on WSU that was clearly not the case on television replay. The pick six would have put the Warriors ahead 38-24.
NMU took advantage of the gift three plays later with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Scepaniak to Christian Jessie with 2:21 to play.
The Warriors started at their own 30 yard line needing a score to salvage a home victory. The first play of the drive Mohner found Brodbeck for 18 yards over the middle, his only other catch of the game. Davis picked up six yards on the ground on the next play before Mohner found Steve Conway (Roseville, Mich. / St. Clair Shores Lakeview) moving towards the right sideline. Conway elevated for the ball and was greeted by a Brandon Parson helmet to the head hit as he held on to the ball despite a dislodged helmet.
The hit cost NMU 15 more yards on the personal foul flag giving WSU a first down at the 16 yard line. The very next snap Mohner faked a Davis run left before handing the ball to Maybanks going right, the junior wide-out broke a few arm tackles on his way to the end zone giving the lead back to Wayne State. It would prove to be Maybanks second game winning score of the year (Lake Erie).
The Wildcats would move the ball 48 yards on the ensuing drive before Scepaniak's desperation throw with three seconds left on the clock was intercepted by Mazen Jaddou (Bloomfield Hills, Mich. / Brother Rice) in the end zone sealing away the Homecoming victory for the Warriors.
Wayne State continues its homestand next Saturday as the Ferris State Bulldogs (5-3 overall, 4-3 GLIAC) invade Adams Field for another GLIAC North Division battle.
Davis rushed for a game-high 105 yards and two scores, while Cotta led the NMU ground game with 100 yards and a pair of TDs. Martin added 49 rushing yards for the Warriors who held a 240-168 advantage in net rushing yards.
Mohner completed 16-of-22 passes for 177 yards and one score. Scepaniak was 18-of-30 through the air for 229 yards.
Sterlin Darling from Northern Michigan had game-best totals of six catches for 118 yards, while Conway had a WSU-best four catches for 61 yards.